Learning to See by Elise Hooper is one of my book club books for Winter 2020. To learn more and join my book club, click here.
I read Learning to See’s 330 pages in one session, unwilling to get up off the couch and do something else. This story is the gripping tale of a woman torn between work and family.
In the book, Elise Hooper tells the story of photographer Dorothea Lange, well-known for her iconic 1936 photograph “Migrant Mother,” and her struggle between being an artist and breadwinner and being a mother, without societal safety nets like food stamps and while facing the horror of poverty.
During the brutal Great Depression, Lange was the chief wage earner for her family. She had no family who could watch her children as she traveled for weeks, photographing migrant camps of those who themselves struggled to feed their families and find work. Lange was forced to put her children into an informal foster care, which affected their relationship into adulthood.
Hooper depicts Lange’s “everyday courage,” showing the character as struggling with the aftereffects of polio as well as gastric problems while trying to earn a living and keep her family together. This book has relevant themes for many of us today as many of us, like me, try to balance work with a family life.
Harper’s descriptions of color and detail are particularly well-crafted, illustrating the world as Dorothea Lange would have seen it.
Would you like to chat about Learning to See? Share your thoughts here on Facebook.